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Private English Language Secondary School “Chelopech” (Chastana profilirana gimnaziya s chuzhudoezikovo obuchenie) hosted ”KEEP YOUR MIND BUSY – FIGHTING STRESS WILL BE EASY", a short-term exchange of group of pupils. The activities took place from 20th March to 24th March, 2017.

The main objectives were: to seek the best methods of dealing with everyday stress, have a first-hand experience of Bulgarian culture, learn about the Bulgarian educational system through observing various classes in the hosting school, exchange good practices and discuss project progress.

We started with a welcoming visit to PELSS “Chelopech” with traditional Bulgarian bread and warm greetings. Then the whole group had the chance to visit the capital, Sofia. Before stepping on the bus, students and teachers were divided into small groups in order to know more about their native languages through simple every day phrases. Having reached Sofia, everyone was given a map and a special route and thus we could have a look at all the landmarks in the very center of Sofia while talking to our new friends, looking for specific information and taking pictures.

The second day was dedicated to our main goal of finding ways to cope with stress. The whole group of over 60 people, moved to Dundee Precious Metals Residence, cuddled in the picturesque Sredna Gora Mountain. The students were divided into three groups and had consecutive morning sessions: Mandala workshop (led by Miss Nina Veleva – senior student at PELSS “Chelopech”), Storytelling and relaxation techniques (led by Mr. Petyo Bogdanov – student in Arabic philology, Sofia Univeristy) and Martenitsa workshop (led by Mrs. Mariika Dinekova – teacher in Physics and Mathematics at PELSS “Chelopech”). The teachers had an Edmodo training (led by Mr. Todor Simeonov – certified trainer and Edmodo ambassador). After the lunch break, we enjoyed two parallel workshops led by Polish and Slovakian teams. The Polish students started with a game for relaxation and then invited everyone to create plasticine figures which later were displayed in PELSS “Chelopech”. After this boost of creativity, both students and teachers were welcomed to Slovakia through a folk song singing and dancing. We felt truly happy and enjoyed every moment of this day.

On Wednesday, we went on looking for relaxation techniques. The morning sessions were led by the Italian and Turkish teams. We were “teleported” to an Italian kitchen where everyone kneaded dough and created the first, and probably the most delicious fettuccini in our lives. We cleaned the flour from our clothes and entered the Turkish relaxation workshop where we slowed our breaths, had a guided meditation and created colourful pictures. The lunch was not an ordinary one. In Bulgaria, 22th March is the first day of spring and we went outside for some bread rolling down the hills. The day finished with watching videos which captured interviews and reports from our school communities in Turkey, Poland, Italy, Slovakia and Bulgaria. In conclusion, there were so many ways but one thing is certain, we relax in similar ways!!!

The next day was a time to get to know more about Bulgaria. We travelled to Plovdiv and had a great time walking through the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town. While enjoying the quiet atmosphere, every group had a special mission of finding hidden “treasures”.

And as always happens, great times come to an end. We spent the morning of our last day at PELSS “Chelopech”. The first two lessons were led by Bulgarian teachers and the guests – teachers and students participated in them. The lessons in German, History, English and Geography were incorporated with ICT (e.g. Edmodo platform, Stupeflix, etc.) Some of the guest students were invited to a Bulgarian language lesson and managed to write some words in Cyrillic. Our colleagues from Poland, Turkey, Slovakia and Italy presented lessons in English, Biology, Art and Italian culture respectively. Our programme continued with visits to Chelopech municipality and Dundee Precious Metals. We said “Goodbye” at a farewell party full of dances, smiles, wishes to meet again and … even some tears. But luckily, we will meet again in Bratislava soon. Till then, keep your mind healthy and smile more!

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